Magnum, P.I.

Magnum, P.I.
Magnum, P.I.
Magnum P.I..jpg
Title card (seasons 3-8)
Genre Crime drama
Created by Donald P. Bellisario
Glen A. Larson
Written by Donald P. Bellisario
Glen A. Larson
Chris Abbott
Directed by Ray Austin
Michael Vejar
Ivan Dixon
Starring Tom Selleck
John Hillerman
Roger E. Mosley
Larry Manetti
Narrated by Tom Selleck
Theme music composer Ian Freebairn-Smith (season 1, first few episodes)
Mike Post
Composer(s) Ian Freebairn-Smith (season 1, first four episodes)
Pete Carpenter
Mike Post
John Cacavas (multiples)
Velton Ray Bunch
Ron Jones
Frank Denson (season 1, one episode)
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 162 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Donald P. Bellisario
Glen A. Larson
Tom Selleck
Producer(s) Tom Greene
Location(s) Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi
Running time 48 min. (excluding commercials)
Original channel CBS
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Audio format Monaural
Original run December 11, 1980 (1980-12-11) – May 8, 1988 (1988-05-08)

Magnum, P.I. is an American television series starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator living on Oahu, Hawaii. The series ran from 1980 to 1988 in first-run broadcast on the American CBS television network.

According to the Nielsen ratings, Magnum, P.I. consistently ranked in the top twenty U.S. television programs during the first five years that the series was originally telecast in the United States.[1] Originally appearing in a prime time American network timeslot of 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursdays, Magnum, P.I. was one of the highest-rated shows on U.S. television.



Thomas Sullivan Magnum resides in the guest house of a posh, 200-acre (0.81 km2) beachfront estate, known as Robin's Nest, in Hawaii, at the invitation of its owner, Robin Masters, the celebrated-but-never-seen author of several dozen lurid novels. Ostensibly this is quid pro quo for Magnum's services based upon Magnum's expertise in security; the pilot suggests Magnum also did Masters a favor of some kind.

In addition, Robin’s Nest is guarded by two highly trained Doberman Pinschers, Zeus and Apollo, and all other aspects of the estate are managed by Englishman Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (played by Texas-born veteran actor John Hillerman), an ex-British Army Sergeant Major with whom, often as a humorous aside during various episodes of the series, Magnum must barter for use of estate amenities other than the guest house and the Ferrari 308 GTS (e.g., tennis courts, wine cellar, expensive cameras, etc.). During early seasons of Magnum, P.I., the voice of Robin Masters, heard only a few times per season, was provided by Orson Welles.

A recurrent theme throughout the last two seasons (starting in the episode "Paper War") involves Magnum's suspicion that Higgins is actually Robin Masters since he opens Robin's mail, calls Robin's Ferrari "his car", etc. This possibility is contradictory to numerous references throughout the series' run that make it seem like they are different people (e.g. phone calls from abroad, the fact that Robin is recognised by famous people, etc.). Although the three of them have been together before, Magnum is convinced that Higgins hired an actor to play Robin Masters (a short rotund guy with an Orson Welles voice, as Magnum puts it). In spite of this, Higgins' dual identity remains an open question until the final episode, where he first admits he is Robin Masters, but later suggests what he had said about Robin Masters was a lie.

Magnum seemingly lives a dream lifestyle: he comes and goes as he pleases, works only when he wants to, has the almost unlimited use of a Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole as well as many other of Robin Masters’ luxuries. He keeps a mini-fridge with a seemingly endless supply of fictional beer ("Old Dusseldorf in a long neck"), wears his father's treasured Rolex GMT Master wristwatch,[2] is seemingly surrounded by countless beautiful women (who are often his clients or victims in the cases he solves) and enjoys adventures with his buddies Rick and T.C., both former Marines from VMO-2 he served with in the Vietnam War.[3]

Other characteristics that are famously linked with Magnum are his thick mustache, a Detroit Tigers baseball hat, and a variety of colorful Aloha shirts.

Magnum and Higgins often break the fourth wall by "locking eyes" with the audience; other characters do this, though less frequently.

At the end of the seventh season, Magnum was killed off, and this was intended to be the end of the series. However, there was outcry from fans, and an eighth, final season was produced, to bring Magnum "back to life", and to round the series off.[4]

Note also that the show recognized the existence of the Hawaii Five-0 unit. That is, all episodes of Magnum occurred as though this elite unit did in fact exist on the island. This was a fitting tribute to the long-running show starring Jack Lord, in that it ran on CBS from the fall of 1968 through the summer of 1980 -- to be replaced, in essence, in the fall of 1980 by Magnum P.I.


  • Tom Selleck as Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV: Growing up in Tidewater, Virginia, he's a Detroit-born third-generation naval officer, the son of a deceased naval aviator killed during the Korean War. He is also a 1967 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and Vietnam veteran, where he served as a Navy SEAL "operator". Magnum's specialized training includes appropriate expertise as a counter-insurgency expert, a sniper, and also demonstrating additional expertise in lock picking, safe-cracking, and assorted firearms including the Colt Model 1911A1 .45 ACP caliber semiautomatic pistol that he carried as a naval officer and still used as his weapon when needed while working as a private detective . Magnum played quarterback for the United States Naval Academy football team. The Magnum character is depicted to have resigned his commission in the U.S. Navy in disillusionment after approximately eleven years of service, including three tours of service during the U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War with his final post with the Office of Naval Intelligence, ONI, although the show referred to it as the NIA for Naval Intelligence Agency, in Hawaii. Magnum takes his Private Investigator job seriously and does not appreciate abbreviations for his profession such as P.I. and private eye — whenever referred to in such a manner he corrects the person and remarks that he is a "private investigator".
  • Roger E. Mosley as Theodore Calvin, a.k.a. "T.C.": a helicopter pilot who operates a tourist charter business called Island Hoppers, wherein he pilots a Hughes 500D helicopter, decked out with distinctive livery. A former Marine Corps helicopter pilot in Vietnam, T.C.'s combat-trained flight skills are often solicited and put to good use by Magnum during the course of an investigation. T.C. is also powerfully built, a trait which Magnum often benefits from when he expects to, and often does, run into physical trouble. With the exception of some early season 1 episodes, T.C. avoids alcohol, instead preferring milk, soda, or juice, but mostly coffee. He often called Higgins "Higgy Baby." He is also the coach of a local peewee baseball team. The episode Missing Melody refers to his daughter who has been kidnapped. His ex-wife is called Tina and he has a son.
  • Larry Manetti as Orville Wilbur Richard "Rick" Wright[5]: a suave playboy who is manager of the King Kamehameha Club, an exclusive beachfront members-only club. In the pilot, Rick owned a disco themed Rick’s Cafe Americaine, where the decor was styled after the nightclub in the film Casablanca and Rick dressed like Humphrey Bogart's character, Richard Blain in the movie. Rick also maintains a number of underworld contacts (one of whom is gangland figure Francis “Icepick” Hofstetler, q.v.). Rick, a former U.S. Marine, is an expert in weaponry, particularly submachineguns and pistols. He was T.C.’s door gunner during the war in Vietnam while both served in the Marine Corps.
  • John Hillerman as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III: The majordomo of "Robin's Nest" a mansion in Hawaii. Higgins has a storied military background as a Sergeant Major in the British Army and loves order above all else. An inveterate "old war story" teller, Higgins received a Victoria Cross. He is frequently accompanied by his Doberman Pinscher guard dogs, Zeus and Apollo.
The Cast of Magnum, P.I.:
(left-to-right) Larry Manetti as Orville "Rick" Wright, Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, Roger E. Mosley as T.C. and John Hillerman as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III.

Recurring characters

  • Lt. Yoshi Tanaka — Homicide-division police lieutenant with the Honolulu police department (played by Kwan Hi Lim), characterized by his casual dress and ironic sense of humor. He is also, like Magnum, a Detroit Tigers fan and is murdered early in the episode Tiger's Fan. Seasons 2–8
  • Agatha Chumley — Higgins' quintessentially English lady friend (played by Gillian Dobb). Seasons 1-8
  • Colonel "Buck" Greene — Marine Corps intelligence officer (played by Lance LeGault), often Magnum's nemesis. Seasons 2–8
  • Carol Baldwin — assistant district attorney (played in all but the first appearance by Kathleen Lloyd). Seasons 3–8 (Before playing Carol Baldwin, Lloyd guest starred in the episode "Almost Home" as Bridget Archer.)[6]
  • Lieutenant "Mac" MacReynolds — doughnut-munching Navy Intelligence Agency(NIA) lieutenant (played by Jeff MacKay), killed off in the series by a car bomb planted by "Ivan", a Russian KGB officer and nemesis of Magnum's, for Magnum in his Ferrari, and later brought back as a ghost for three episodes ("Mac's Back", "Limbo" and "Infinity and Jelly Doughnuts") and then as a look-alike character (see below). Seasons 1–3 and 7–8
  • Jim Bonig — con man and an ex-navy pilot who was released on a medical discharge, (played by Jeff MacKay) who was also MacReynolds' look-alike. In at least one episode ("Mac's Back") MacKay appeared in both roles. Seasons 5–8.
  • Francis “Icepick” Hofstetler — loan-shark and major underworld figure from Chicago and Rick Wright’s father figure (played by veteran actor Elisha Cook, Jr)
  • Dr. Ibold, M.D. "Doc Ibold" — minor character (played by Glenn Cannon) who appeared in many episodes whenever a physician was needed in the script. First referred to as "Script Writer #1", he was known for writing prescriptions for opiates for any and all ailments. Seasons 2–8.
  • Michelle Hue — the love of Magnum’s life (played by Marta DuBois); they married in Vietnam but the marriage was erased legally and in Michelle's eyes when her presumed-dead husband, a North Vietnamese general, resurfaced); Magnum believed Michelle to have died during the 1975 evacuation of Saigon until her character was introduced in season 2's "Memories Are Forever." Seasons 2–8
  • Lieutenant. (later Lt. Commander) Maggie Poole — successor of the deceased MacReynolds (played by Jean Bruce Scott). She dislikes her superior Col. Greene. Seasons 3–8
  • Luther H. Gillis — mock-film noir private eye from St. Louis (played by Eugene Roche), and narrator of the five episodes in which he appeared. Seasons 4–8
  • Lt. Nolan Page - a hard-nosed, no-nonsense police lieutenant (played by Joe Santos) with the Honolulu police department who helps Magnum on several cases. He also speaks with a New York accent.
  • Moki - bartender of the King Kamehameha Club in Season 1. He was later replaced with Keoki. Seasons 1-2
  • Keoki - bartender / server of the King Kamehameha Club starting in Season 2. He is arrested by Tanaka for trying to rob the club in the episode "Eyewitness". Seasons 2-4
  • Mike Scholl - nightclub manager often jealous of Magnum's mustache. Season 4

Guest Stars

Former Five-O cast members Kam Fong, Herman Wedemeyer, Harry Endo and Zulu have guest-starred on Magnum, P.I.


The boathouse, or guesthouse in Magnum, P.I., fell into disarray during the mid-2000s.

Robin's Nest is the fictional beach front estate on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, which serves as the residence of the main characters. In the series, it is portrayed as owned by a renowned novelist Robin Masters, who is seldom present at the estate and entrusts Jonathan Higgins as the estate's caretaker and Thomas Magnum as its security expert. Higgins resides in the estate's main house while Magnum occupies the guest house.

In reality, Robin's Nest is a private residence owned by local Hawaiian politician Eve Glover Anderson, who is the stepdaughter of Cox Communications heiress Barbara Cox Anthony, the wealthiest Hawaiian resident until her death on May 28, 2007.[7] The property is known locally as "The Anderson Estate."

The Anderson Estate is located on the east shore of Oahu at 41-505 Kalanianaole Highway (Route 72) near Waimanalo Beach (21°19′30″N 157°40′48″W / 21.325°N 157.68°W / 21.325; -157.68. It was built in the early 1930s, and comprises a large main house, a boathouse (which in the series, appears as the guest house that Magnum occupies), a gatehouse, a private tennis court, a beach front and the tidal pool.

In the Magnum P.I. series the estate was primarily used for exterior scenes set at Robin's Nest. Virtually all of the indoor scenes set at Robin's Nest were filmed at the Hawaii Film Studio.



Robin Masters' cars




Selleck's contract commitment to the Magnum, P.I. series famously cost him the role of Indiana Jones in the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which went to Harrison Ford.[12] Selleck was unable to take the part of Indy as Magnum was due to start filming in March 1980. However, because of a writer's strike, the start of production on Magnum was delayed until December 1980, which would have allowed Selleck to play Indy.[citation needed] In Magnum, P.I.'s final season, the producers gave a nod to his sacrifice with the episode “Legend of the Lost Art”, which parodied the film.[original research?]

List of episodes



  • Season 1 - #14, 16.77 million viewers[13]
  • Season 2 - #17, 17.03 million viewers[13]
  • Season 3 - #04, 18.80 million viewers[13]
  • Season 4 - #06, 18.77 million viewers[13]
  • Season 5 - #11, 16.66 million viewers[13]


Selleck won an Emmy in 1984 for his portrayal of the title character; three years later costar John Hillerman also won an Emmy.[14] In 1981, series creators and writers Glen A. Larson and Donald P. Bellisario received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Episode in a TV Series.[14][15]

DVD releases

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all eight seasons of Magnum P.I. on DVD in Region 1, 2 and 4.

DVD name Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 2* Region 4
The Complete First Season 18 September 7, 2004[16][17] September 13, 2004 December 1, 2004
The Complete Second Season 22 April 12, 2005 July 4, 2005 September 19, 2005
The Complete Third Season* 23 January 31, 2006 January 30, 2006 July 12, 2006
The Complete Fourth Season 21 April 4, 2006 June 26, 2006 September 20, 2006
The Complete Fifth Season 22 October 10, 2006 February 12, 2007 March 21, 2007
The Complete Sixth Season 21 February 27, 2007 May 7, 2007 July 4, 2007
The Complete Seventh Season** 22 October 30, 2007 March 31, 2008 June 4, 2008
The Complete Eighth Season*** 13 March 4, 2008 May 19, 2008 September 3, 2008
Seasons One, Two****, Three & Four 84 N/A November 20, 2006 N/A

* Includes the crossover Season 2 episode from Simon & Simon titled "Emeralds Are Not a Girl's Best Friend".
** Includes the crossover Season 3 episode from Murder She Wrote titled "Magnum On Ice".
*** Includes the bonus Season 5 episode from The Rockford Files titled "White on White and Nearly Perfect" featuring Tom Selleck.
****Includes a bonus episode from The A-Team titled "Diamonds 'n' Dust" and Knight Rider titled "Brother's Keeper".


  1. ^ Entry for Magnum, P.I from the Museum of Broadcast Communications website
  2. ^
  3. ^ The three buddies wear a gold Team Ring, which bears a Croix de Lorraine on a black field, as a bond of wartime camaraderie.
  4. ^
  5. ^ In the last episode, "Resolutions 2", where Rick gets married, the priest announces Rick's full name as being Orville Wilbur Richard Wright (he actually hated being named after both of the Wright brothers, hence the more appropriate nickname. The series ended in a cliffhanger, as the audience never sees whether or not Manetti's character said the legally operative phrase "I do". The name may be a discontinuity, as early on in the series Roger E. Mosley's character had referred to him as "Elliot," though in the first episode he is in fact identified as Orville.
  6. ^ "Almost Home" - Season Three, Episode 10
  7. ^ Isles' richest person, with $12.6 billion, dies.
  8. ^ Ferrari 308 GTS, Magnum Mania, The Ferrari,
  9. ^ a b Magnum, P.I., TV Series, 1980-1988, Internet Movie Car Database,,-PI.html
  10. ^ Mercedes-Benz SL [R107] (Col. Buck Green referred to it as a 450SL when Rick went missing), Internet Movie Car Database, and at least one Corvette in an early episode while Thomas and Rick drove side-by-side on a two-lane byway.
  11. ^ T.C.'s Chopper, Magnum Mania!,
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c d e
  14. ^ a b Magnum, P.I. (series) at the Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ The 1981 Edgar Award was won for an episode entitled "China Doll."
  16. ^ The Region 1 version of the Season 1 DVD release comes with an extra disk, featuring extra episodes from later in the series.
  17. ^ The Season 1 release (both Regions 1 and 2) has an error in the episode "China Doll": the musical cues are about 30 seconds off throughout much of the episode.

External links

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